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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > FREE Sample Issue > CARL PERKINS

CARL PERKINS

Real Real Gone
© Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

ROCK‘n‘ ROLL

CARL PERKINS WAS, SIMPLY, ROCKABILLY. IN THIS INTERVIEW FROM 1994 THE PIONEERING SINGER/GUITARIST REMEMBERS ELVIS, JERRY LEE LEWIS AND THE ARCHITECT OF ROCK’N’ROLL HIMSELF, PRODUCER SAM PHILLIPS OF SUN RECORDS

Halfway into the first verse of Elvis Presley’s Sun recording of Milk Cow Blues, the putative King stops the music dead. So far, the tune has unfolded as a moaning, slack-jawed country plaint. Presley sounds sweet enough, but by the standards of those intense Sun sides he seems strangely uncommitted. It appears he has something different in mind. ‘Hold it fellas!’ yelps Presley suddenly.‘That don’t move me. Let’s get real, real gone, for a change.’

The band – Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass – respond with a rhythm that’s choppy, insistent, almost awkward, definitively teenage and hormonal. To pervert the tag-line of a bygone cigar commercial, it’s that rockabilly moment. They’re getting real, real gone… and it sounded like a change.

‘Back then we called it “feel good music”, recalls Carl Perkins. ‘In 1954, when Elvis started at Sun and I followed him, the word “rockabilly” hadn’t been invented. I had played it that way all my life, and it just so happened that Elvis was influenced by the same people I was.

‘Elvis liked Bill Monroe, and so did I. We just laid a bit of a drumbeat on some bluegrass music, wrote a few of our own tunes and some lyrics that maybe appealed to a younger audience and, well, no question about it, Elvis appealed in every respect of the word. The way he looked and moved just opened the door for people like me and Jerry Lee. It may have happened without him but thanks to him it came outta the chute, and rolled!’

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About Vintage Rock

Vintage Rock: Winter issue 2011 features: 50 Greatest Rockabilly tracks - Prepare yourself for the greatest party tape in history with our essential cuts. The Roots of Rock’n’Roll - The definitive lowdown on how it all began The stars - Fantastic features on Elvis, Hank Marvin, Jet Harris, Carl Perkins, Ike Turner and many more Rockabilly Hair - Tope stylist Mr Ducktail tells all, ably assisted by Levi and Bernie Dexter All Mama’s Children - News, reviews and events for the incorrigibly beat-minded